HP Omen 17 review: More portentous than ominous

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The Good The HP Omen 17 comes in a wide range of configurations, most of which offer good graphical bang for your buck.

The Bad The 4K variant has poor battery life, no option for a Nvidia GeForce 1080 GPU.

The Bottom Line It's not the most powerful gaming laptop out there, nor the slimmest one, but it's among the best combinations of price, screen size and performance.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 9
  • Battery 6

The 17-inch HP Omen hits the sweet spot. There are laptops with greater graphical grunt, but they're mostly either heavier or more expensive. There are thinner, lighter laptops, but they're mostly either less powerful or, yet again, more expensive. The HP Omen succeeds because it crams impressive power into a relatively light machine for a cost that's a bit lower than most of its competitors.

Unlike its 15-inch little brother, the 17-inch HP Omen can be configured with an Nvidia GeForce 1070 graphics card. A GeForce 1050 will play the games of today, a 1060 will let you dabble in VR. The powerful 1070, though, is a better bet for the games of tomorrow -- and the two or so years that follow tomorrow. There's another step beyond that, the Nvidia 1080, but that's where prices really start to go up. 

Ian Knighton/CNET

That, plus a 7th-generation Intel i7 processor, comes in a machine that weighs 6.3 pounds (2.8kg). Not light, but on the lighter side for a 17-inch laptop. Many of its peers weigh in excess of 7 or 8 pounds, with some beasts like the EVGA SC17 in double-digit territory. 

The Nvidia 1070-packing Omen starts at $1,799 (£1,799 in the UK and AU$3,199 in Australia).  That's without luxuries like a 4K screen, but it's also considerably lower than the price of many comparable laptops, which often start at $2,000 and above. The model we reviewed was the souped-up 1070 version with a 4K display for a total of $2,339. It's AU$3,499 in Australia but HP doesn't currently offer the 1070/4K combo in the UK. 

HP Omen 17

Price as reviewed $2,339
Display size/resolution 17.3-inch 3,840x2,160-pixel display
PC CPU 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ
PC memory 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz
Graphics 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
Storage 256GB SSD 1TB HDD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Playing with power

The laptop will handle everything you can throw at it -- if you keep games to 1,920x1,080-pixel, full-HD resolution. I played a few hours of Rise of the Tomb Raider, released in 2016 but still among the most graphically demanding games out there, and it ran perfectly smoothly in FHD. Kicking the resolution to full 4K caused some choppiness, but the game still mostly ran at around 30fps.

That said, the Omen 17 fared well in Overwatch: I got up to 70 frames per second playing at the higher 4K resolution of 3,840x2,160 pixels. 

One problem with gaming laptops is the inability to switch graphics cards in and out, so whatever card you have, you're stuck with it. You'll be able to play most of today's games with ease on the Omen 17 configured with a GeForce 1050Ti, and play all of them with ease with a 1060. If you want future-proofing though, it's worth shelling out an extra hundred or so for the 1070.

Better safe than sorry

Portability is clearly not your main concern if you're in the market for a 17-inch machine, but the HP Omen is admirably trim considering the necessarily large frame. At 6.3 pounds, it's not something you'd take to work every day -- or anywhere near public transport. But it's something you can move around the house or (drive) to a friend's house every now and then without it being a major hassle.

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